Adhering two flat pieces of stainless steel
January 29, 2018 7:19 AM   Subscribe

My espresso machine has a little stainless steel basket under the grouphead (i.e., where water comes out) that is covered with a little removable grille. The support for the grille--an inverted L (or, really, gamma) shaped piece of stainless steel--has come away from the side of the basket. The bracket had been spot welded, but due to moisture, the welds rusted away. What's the best way to put these two pieces of stainless back together?

I plan to file away the rust, of course. The area to be attached are about 1.5" tall and 6" long--just a little strip whose sole purpose is to hold up the grille where your espresso cup might sit.

I don't have a spot welder, as you may imagine. I have gear for doing plumbing fittings--but I'd be nearly certain that the best and easiest course of action is just to epoxy glue it together.

My one concern is that I hate the way epoxy smells, and I don't want to stink up my otherwise enjoyable coffee experience. I also have Gorrilla Glue, hot glue sticks, Krazy glue, construction adhesive, caulk, and good ol' American sticktoitiveness.

Right now, the piece is wedged in place with chopsticks that I've cut to size, which is almost good enough! But not quite.

Any experience with attaching stainless to stainless would be appreciated.
posted by Admiral Haddock to Home & Garden (20 answers total)
I'd consider J-B Weld. It's secure up to 550F, and shouldn't have any odor after cured. It would indeed smell for a day or so while it cures, but I agree with you that epoxy is the best bet.

I'm fairly confident krazy glue will perform poorly, because cyanoacrylates don't work well on smooth surfaces.

Gorilla glue expands as it cures. I can't see exactly what you're dealing with but I bet you don't want a super hardened foam squooshing out, and that's what often happens when you put gorilla glue in small spaces.

Hot glue is right out. The melt temp is uncomfortably close to espresso temp.
posted by SaltySalticid at 7:31 AM on January 29, 2018 [6 favorites]

I would use two-part JB Weld and give it a day or two for the smell to go away. Once it's fully cured it shouldn't smell at all and should hold up to head and water.
posted by bondcliff at 7:32 AM on January 29, 2018 [3 favorites]

Er, that last line should be heat and water, though I guess it will hold up to that too.
posted by bondcliff at 7:38 AM on January 29, 2018

Thanks so far—though to clarify, the bracket never gets hot. I’m confident that the moisture it was exposed to was either from washing or capillary action drawing cold waste water up from the bottom of the basket.

Epoxy looks like my winner. Do you think I can get away with the regular stuff, or do I need marine epoxy or some other special formulation?
posted by Admiral Haddock at 7:41 AM on January 29, 2018

I wouldn't put anything that doesn't say it's intended for food applications in stuff that will touch things I eat.

Can you buy replacement parts from the espresso machine company?
posted by gregr at 7:46 AM on January 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

I've done a fair bit of repair on various espresso machines over the years, and I can't quite tell what the part is here. Could you link to a picture, and then we might be better able to give advice?
posted by Making You Bored For Science at 7:50 AM on January 29, 2018

I would try to get replacement parts from the espresso machine manufacturer. If you insist on using epoxy, make sure it is food grade not "food grade for incidental contact" they are different, and what you are using it for is not incidental contact.

Red flag that a piece of espresso equpiment exposed to water is rusting off parts that are meant to have water in contact with them. This is a red flag that you might be using the machine more than it has been designed to, and I would consider this a great time to upgrade to another (sturdier, better made) machine.

Not that I reccomend them for home use (they're kind of a pain, and there are better machines out on the market) but I had an older pavoni lever machine that was used pretty much daily by me, and who knows before then, and it didn't have a spot of rust on it, because that thing was a tank, and the only things that could break on it were the seals.
posted by furnace.heart at 7:55 AM on January 29, 2018 [2 favorites]

I'd definitely go for the epoxy.
By the sound of your description the join won't be in direct line of anything consumable.
Cured epoxy isn't a cause for concern like this. I probably wouldn't use it to make cups or plates or anything like that, but a little structural join, no problem.
It'll only smell for a day or so, and it sounds like it's going to be in quite small quantities anyway.

This To That is a good basic glue resource if you want more info.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 7:56 AM on January 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

I don't like glues in general and epoxies especially, so I would drill both pieces and put in a tiny stainless nut and bolt.
posted by jamjam at 8:24 AM on January 29, 2018 [3 favorites]

Auto mechanics, powder coating shops, metal fab shops should all have welding machines. I'd ask one of them to weld it. If its was just a spot weld it would be silly cheap.
posted by WeekendJen at 8:35 AM on January 29, 2018

Get it spot welded, and then PASSIVATE it. You can buy citric-acid passivation juice.
posted by notsnot at 8:55 AM on January 29, 2018

It's an Isomac Venus.

what you are using it for is not incidental contact
It's so totally incidental I wouldn't even bother getting "food grade for incidental contact." The part is the drip tray; i.e., exclusively intended for waste water (you can kinda sorta see a tiny bright rectangle in the shadow on the back left of the tray in the linked photo; that is the flat part of the bracket that holds up the grille, and that's what has come loose). The only theoretical contact with anything for human consumption would be if I rinsed it out and set it to drain onto something else. I'd avoid that with hand drying.

It's seen daily use by me for a decade (between me and the missus, I'd think we're coming up on 7,000 lattes and espressos!), and I bought it used. The rust is no fault of the machine's; I've left water in there longer than I should many, many times. I'll do better in the future.

1st-Line has a replacement--but even the B stock is $50, which is truly not worth it to me. Buying the machine was the best money I ever spent, though! A few more years and we might even get an upgrade, but it really just keeps going. Replaced the vibratory pump once and all the gaskets several times, but it just is solid as a rock.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:10 AM on January 29, 2018

I'm having some difficulty envisioning the configuration, but would a pop rivet do the job? They're not expensive, and are reasonably secure.
posted by 2N2222 at 9:24 AM on January 29, 2018

If both components are steel, I'd rivet it. Scrounge some copper wire from a bit of 14 or 10 guage electrical wire (type that goes in the wall) and drill a hole just barely big enough for a short bit if bare copper wire to pass through. Clip the ends about to about 1/8" protruding and against some hard metal surface, peen the wire to mushroom out over the hole. I wouldn't do it exactly where the welds were, in case the metal is brittle in that spot.
posted by bonobothegreat at 9:25 AM on January 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

The tray slides into a receiver on the base of the machine, which you can see in the photo. There is no clearance between the drip tray and the receiver to accommodate a rivet or other fastener going through the wall of the tray.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:29 AM on January 29, 2018

Permatex sells a flowable self leveling silicone that is beautiful when cured , Borden sells it as Stix-All , good stuff, cures smooth and clear.
posted by hortense at 10:08 AM on January 29, 2018

Looking at the detail of the photo, I'd see about getting a chunk of plastic that you can just stick in the drip tray to hold up the drip tray screen. Cleanable if you need to, no chance of it rusting. Maybe something the width of the tray in one dimension so it'll stay in place as a tension fit.
posted by Making You Bored For Science at 10:39 AM on January 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

Okay, I misread what part this was actually attached to (you mean, you don't king's cup the contents of your drip tray once a week? SACRILEGE!).

Yeah, then epoxy will do nicely. The food grade stuff (either incidental or full food grade) is cheap, and will totally work for what you want it to do! The food grade stuff has the advantage over some other epoxies that it won't smell, they're specifically formulated to either not smell at all, or off-gas real fast. Silicone might also work, and silicone rarely smells at all.
posted by furnace.heart at 12:21 PM on January 29, 2018

A rivet like I was talking about is supposed to be squashed very nearly flush with the surface, not proud like a pop rivet or screw. This sort of rivet (with the addition of washers) is used in applications like folding chair mechanisms, where parts need to slide past each other.
posted by bonobothegreat at 12:22 PM on January 29, 2018

gregr: "I wouldn't put anything that doesn't say it's intended for food applications in stuff that will touch things I eat.

Can you buy replacement parts from the espresso machine company?

I'd silver solder it but JB Weld is food safe.
posted by Mitheral at 5:08 PM on January 29, 2018

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